Senator Cantwell Introduces Bill to Promote Consumer Protection, Airport Safety, and Aerospace Innovation

Cantwell-sponsored bill reauthorizes Federal Aviation Administration through 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Aviation Operations, Safety, & Security Subcommittee, introduced the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 with a bipartisan group of three senators. The bill seeks to reauthorize federal aviation programs through fiscal year 2021.

“From small rural airports to turbine manufacturers, aviation touches every corner of our state and country. It connects communities and businesses and employs hard-working people,” said Senator Cantwell. “We must keep investing in airport transportation infrastructure to help our economy grow, support local business, and create more jobs.”

Washington is a leader in aerospace manufacturing and aerospace jobs. With more than 132,000 workers and 1,350 aerospace-related companies, aerospace is a key economic driver for the state.  Cantwell has been a tireless defender of the aerospace industry and airline passengers in Washington state, fighting to ensure rural airports have the resources they need, passengers are treated fairly, and the state’s manufacturers can compete and win on the world stage.

Among other provisions, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 promotes:

CONSUMER PROTECTION & AIR TRAVEL ENHANCEMENTS – Includes new consumer protections for the flying public, updates Department of Transportation (DOT) rules following high-profile airline incidents, and takes steps to help passengers needing assistance during air travel.

DRONE SAFETY & INNOVATION – Addresses safety and privacy issues, criminalizes reckless drone behavior around manned aircraft and runways, authorizes FAA drone registration authority, and boosts enforcement while creating new opportunities for testing and promoting innovative uses.

AIRLINE SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS & AVIATION ACCESS – Includes new requirements on the bulk transfer of lithium batteries, improves communicable disease preparedness, and supports contract air traffic control towers, which largely serve rural communities.

GENERAL AVIATION (GA) SAFETY & PROTECTIONS – Offers GA airports more flexibility to facilitate infrastructure investment, applies the same medical certificate requirements to air balloon operators as other licensed pilots, and expands the rights of pilots in FAA enforcement proceedings.

AIRCRAFT CERTIFICATION REFORMS – Improves international competitiveness of U.S. aerospace manufacturing by improving the FAA’s processes for certifying aircraft designs and modifications, as well as ensuring the benefits of such certification processes for manufacturers competing in global markets.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL & NEXTGEN – Acts on recommendations of independent government watchdogs for improving the FAA’s transition to 21st century air traffic control technologies known collectively as “NextGen” and requires the FAA to assess how each NextGen program contributes to a more safe and efficient air traffic control system and its current implementation status.

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT & STUDY – Increases authorized funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which pays for infrastructure like runways, by $400 million to an annual level of $3.75 billion (well within the projected trust fund surplus), and streamlines the application process for Passenger Facility Charges (PFC). Requires a study and recommendations on upgrading and restoring the nation’s airport infrastructure.

Cantwell also introduced the Safe Skies Act today. The legislation, offered by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Al Franken (D-MN), would ensure that America’s cargo plane pilots are sufficiently rested and alert before they fly.